Tech Helps Ease Cabin Fever in Shoebox Apartments

Smart designs are increasingly being incorporated into shoebox apartments, both here in Singapore and elsewhere, to make them more liveable. This is especially timely given the rise in the need to work from home amidst the Covid-19 situation, and restrictions on outside activity and gatherings.

Examples abound of such a move. At One Pearl Bank, a new project that launched for sale in mid 2019, the studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom apartments that start from 431 square feet upwards, come with a swivel table in the kitchen. This can be swivelled out to function as a dining or work table, and be tucked away for more circulation space when not in use.

An inspection of the URA caveats list shows that over a third of the 140 studio units in One Pearl Bank have been sold to date. The most recent sale of a studio unit was for $1.18 million, which works out to $2,741 PSF (per square foot).

Similarly over at Wing Tai Asia’s new project at Bugis, studio units at The M that range from 409 to 420 square feet come with multi-function sliding kitchen tables. These tables can be used for work, or meals and entertainment, or be tucked away into the kitchen cabinets to free up space in the room.

The units also come with sliding wardrobes that can be used for workspace storage. All the 52 studio units at The M condo were snapped up at its launch, possibly owing to an acceptable price for its central location in the Bugis area. The most recent transaction for a studio apartment at this project was at $1.01 million for a 409 sq ft unit, that equates to $2,476 PSF.


Other Centrally Located Developments

In the vicinity, just across the road from the M is GuocoLand’s Midtown. This is a mixed development that includes two condominiums, Midtown Modern and Midtown Bay. Midtown Bay offers one-bedroom units from 409 to 527 square feet, where the dining room cabinet can be configured as a study space, and the bedroom dresser can be turned into a study desk. The latest sale of one such apartment was a 409 square foot unit that went for $1.22 million, at $2,992 PSF.

Midtown Modern nearby has not been launched yet. The General Manager (Residential) of GuocoLand, Ms Dora Chng, however mentioned that the one-bedroom apartments at Midtown Modern will have a relatively larger dining area that can accommodate a six-seater table. The units will also feature neutral colours and designs that exude a corporate type feel, thus making it easy for residents to use them as study or office space.

While transactions of new shoebox apartments have fallen since URA increased the average minimum unit sizes of private apartments in 2018, those in central locations still enjoy strong demand, which augurs well for the upcoming launches of One Bernam at Tanjong Pagar, and even possibly Irwell Hills off River Valley Road, next year.

OrangeTee & Tie’s head of consultancy and research, Ms Christine Sun, observed that: “For new launches, people seem to be more selective in buying shoebox units nowadays. Many prefer units in selected locations such as downtown areas and the city fringe. The more popular units are still two-bedroom or two-bedroom plus study, which are suitable for rental and own stay.”

She went on to comment that: “Property investors also favour shoebox units since there is high rental demand, especially those that are well located near MRT stations, offices or the city-centre. Some tenants still prefer to have a unit to themselves to sharing a bigger unit with others.” These are characteristics that would apply to One Bernam, and Irwell Hills as well.

However Ms Sun also highlighted that co-living spaces are a growing trend among tenants, with the rental fees covering utilities and cleaning services too. She concluded that shoebox apartments could face a challenge from such co-living spaces in the long run.

Side Note: URA raised the average unit sizes for private housing developments outside Singapore’s core central region in October 2018, from 70 square metres to 85 square metres or 100 square metres, depending on the location. While there was no minimum size requirement imposed for each unit, developers were required to design such that the average of the sizes of all the units in the project met the new stipulations.

See related article on how technology alleviates cabin fever for some residents of shoebox units.

Source: The Edge Singapore . 24 April 2020